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As PM May Prepares to Make €20 Billion Brexit Offer to EU, Concern That Paying Would Be Offence Under UK Law

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) has claimed that paying the Brexit ‘divorce bill’ demanded by the European Union (EU) may actually be against British law as it is technically bribery of a foreign power.

Since February, the EU’s negotiating team, led by Michel Barnier, have been threatening to block talks progressing until the UK pays the unspecified sum, which could be as large as €100 billion.

A House of Lords committee and UK negotiators have insisted the bill has no legal basis and Brexit minister David Davis has called on the EU to be more “pragmatic” and “flexible”.

Mr. Barnier, however, said his team would not move “one iota” from the mandate given to them by the other 27 member states and has attempted to push back and delay trade talks.

In a statement Thursday, UKIP’s interim leader Steve Crowther said the EU was holding the UK to “ransom”, forcing Britain to “buy the right to continue negotiating”.

“Under Section 6 of the Bribery Act 2010, considered to be the most rigorous anti-bribery legislation in Europe, the payment of foreign officials to obtain an advantage in the conduct of business is illegal,” said Mr. Crowther.

Continuing: “It has been established by lawyers on both sides of the negotiation that there is no contract law or treaty law which requires the UK to pay any sums relating to EU activities beyond the date of Brexit.

“So, the request for payment of the ‘ransom demand’ by Michel Barnier is purely to buy the right to continue negotiating the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU. Several key EU officials have made this point explicitly, including the European Parliament’s Chief Negotiator Guy Verhofstadt.

“Since it is the responsibility of those negotiators to discuss the future relationship, and they refuse to do so without a large payment for which there is no legal basis, this must surely be a bribe to a foreign official, and so illegal under UK Law.”

UK PM Theresa May is to make a major speech in Florence, Italy, Friday afternoon which has been trailed by government spin doctors as an important point in turning around the progress of Brexit negotiations. It is rumoured — although the government has refused to confirm — that the PM will use the speech to make the €20 billion offer.

UKIP’s intervention comes three days after it was reported that the prime minister is preparing to cave to EU demands and offer a £30 billion with “almost unanimous” support from her Tory cabinet.

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